From Copenhagen – Dec 16, 2009
Posted by Frances Orchard CJ.
‘Race to save Climate Change’ and ‘COP Out?’ are the media headlines as the Climate Change Conference moves into its final few days. Today the Ministers are at work with the negotiators and tomorrow over a hundred Heads of State arrive to ‘seal the deal’ – or not. What is so frustrating about this conference is that there is little dissent among the various parties as to what needs to be done. The obstacles are all about how to do it; who should pay for what; and who can take an advantage over political rivals.
On Friday last the COP15 chairman’s draft report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG LCA) set out clearly what needed to be done:
‘A long-term and ambitious global goal for emission reductions, as part of the shared vision for long-term cooperative action, should be based on the best scientific knowledge and supported by medium-term goals for emission reductions, taking into account historical responsibilities and an equitable share in the atmospheric space.’
The draft report stated the ultimate objective of (i) an increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels of not more than 2°C or even 1.5°C, (ii) a global reduction of emissions of between 50% -95% from the 1990 levels by 2050, (iii) developed countries should provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, and technology to support the adaptation action needed in developing countries.
If this could be achieved it would amount to the FAB (‘fair, ambitious and binding’) success that the Alliance of NGOs (CAN) is seeking. However, the gaps between the different countries to reach agreement are enormous. The emission reductions currently on the table from developing and developed countries will fail to meet the challenge posed by science. At this rate the world will be closer to a catastrophic 4°C temperature increase rather than the scientifically desirable 1.5°C. There is then the huge financial gap between what is needed for mitigation and adaptation in relation to climate change and what the developed countries are offering. The EU has put forward some quite generous offers, and Norway and Mexico are proposing a new green fund, but collectively the developed countries financial contributions fall far short of what is needed. All this is undermining the trust that must be present if a FAB deal is to be realized. Threats and accusations, mistrust and suspicion – particularly between industrialized and developing countries – are surfacing as the time pressure mounts. The US has been assigned the role of ‘the elephant in the room’ as its offers fall far short of of the category ‘ambitious.’ But as Al Gore reminded us at a presentation yesterday if the Americans can put a man on the moon then they can throw their weight behind a FAB deal – if they want to. Al Gore concluded his presentation by challenging the politicians: ‘We have the solutions and we have the technology. We need the political will. I believe that political will is a renewable source.’
Both Connie Hedegaard, the President of COP15, and Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the UN have addressed the NGOs and urged them to put pressure on their respective governments to commit to a FAB deal. It is therefore a little less than ironic that NGOs are finding it increasingly difficult to access the Bella Conference Centre. We have been told that the Bella Centre has a capacity for 15,000 and that 45,000 registered for COP15. Now that the politicians and Heads of State are arriving in force with their entourages and the press pack in pursuit, the number of NGOs allowed admission, even if in possession of a valid pass, is being cut. Yesterday we required an additional pass to gain access so as to cut the total number of NGOs to 7,000. Tomorrow, the 17th December, NGO delegates will be cut back to 1,000. The authorities have not yet informed us how the rationing is to be done. If it is anything like the chaos outside the Centre over the past few days we may just to ‘frozen out’ in both senses of the world as temperatures in Copenhagen drop to below zero and NGOs stick it out in the cold – some for ten hours – to gain access. As I write, I can hear the chanting of protests going on in a different part of the Centre. My guess that it is the NGOs are protesting inside the Centre whilst they still can. Keeping up public pressure by whatever means is critical over the next few days.
There are plenty of cartoons doing the rounds here at the Bella Centre. One I found particularly apt was of two under-nourished polar bears each, mobile in hand, sitting on a rapidly melting iceberg. One phones the other with the news: ‘It’s Copenhagen. They say can we hang on for another twelve months?’ I am not getting sentimental about polar bears, but as symbols for the future of humanity time is not on our side – not here at COP15 and not for the humanity unless we can achieve a FAB deal.